Sunday 4th December 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Groans at Old Roan as Senior Vets Fail to Breach Old Tamponians Defence in 2-0 Defeat.”
At last we got to play Old Tamponians after a wait of over two years and even though we lost and the better team won the score does not quite reflect the flow of the match and the long periods of sustained pressure we had against a team that soaked it all, and kept the red and yellow of FOBG at bay.
The journey to Old Roan School Playing Fields parallel to Kidbrooke Park Road had been complicated by the replacement of a railway bridge at Chislehurst, and a fire at the confluence of the A20 and the A224, but we all got there on a grey, dry and, for December, a relatively mild day. There was no pre-match tension in the dressing room and we were genuinely curious about the quality of our opponents. Well we have the answer to that question now and we hope to have the answers on the pitch ourselves when we meet them again at our ground in half of 28 days.
Out starting line-up consisted of Gary Fentiman in goal; Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Rob Lipscomb, John Tallis and Paul Smith in midfield; Nick Waller and Toby Manchip in attack. Roger French, Sinisa Gracanin and Chris Bourlet awaited their insertion into the game. Thomas French sat in his tent – though not quite shielded from the game as he found out later from an Old Tamponians clearance. Before the match started Toby Manchip had livened things up as he was wolf-whistled from a passing car on the Kidbrooke Park Road by an eagle-eyed passenger who had spotted Toby’s shorts a little low as he applied some deep heat to his gluteus maximus. As grounds go Old Roan Playing Fields are the closest to a busy road of all the grounds we play on, as John Tallis was to demonstrate later.
Our opponents were quicker to settle and it became clear that there was much quality in their play, in many positions and that they liked passing the ball about, had forwards who could hold it, midfielders who took great care of it and defenders who did not waste it. They would be hard to get through. Yet the first clear opportunity came our way when Nick Waller played an exquisite through ball that left Toby Manchip with a clear run on the Old Tamponians goal. Unfortunately Toby chose to shoot early, and wide, when there was time and space, we felt, to take the ball on into the box although the keeper coming off his line may have made Toby’s mind up. Soon after Paul Smith cut in from the right and advanced centrally on goal, shooting just over the bar from twenty five yards out. These were two good half chances for us and we had another when Paul Smith put a deep cross to the far post that just eluded both Toby Manchip and Nick Waller. That was the sum of our cutting edge – we wanted to penetrate the Old Tamponians defence more deeply, and have a greater presence in their box but they certainly looked like they could cope with all the pressure we applied.
What about at the other end? We held out until about 20 minutes into the game. A throw-in on the left of our defence had tempted Gary Fentiman off his goal line, he tried to pull back, slipped and the goal was left empty as an Old Tamponian forward with more room that we would have liked in the middle of our penalty area was able to side foot a half volley over the line. That was about it really until five minutes before the end of the first half when we were undone by a clever piece of inter-passing that played in an Old Tamponian midfelder, unencumbered by a covering opponent, to score from close range. The mood at half time was that we been the architects of our own downfall. There were really no other goal scoring opportunities of note for our opponents in that half. We felt we could turn it round.
Sinisa Gracanin and Chris Bourlet came on for Toby Manchip and Nick Waller at half time as we put up a new front line in Ian Shoebridge and Paul Smith, and Patrice Mongelard pushed up to raid down the right flank. Even Old Tamponians would concede that we had about 75% of the play in that half as the game flowed towards them and they were left to pick up scraps on the break. Our best scoring opportunity was fashioned by Paul Smith who turned his marker, picked his spot ten yards out but was denied by a very good save from the keeper diving low to his right. Patrice Mongelard had a succession of shots from relatively short range as we got behind Old Tamponians: one drew a smart save from the keeper, two others were off target and he also failed narrowly to connect with a ball at the far post after a shot from Ian Shoebridge became a cross but had too much pace on it. As time ticked on we felt this was not going to be our day as we failed to get the right last ball in, crosses from both flanks and corners were not met. One moment that summed the match up was when Sinisa Gracanin swung a great free kick in from the left and Robin Lipscomb unmarked, leaping high, failed to connect with the ball from three yards out. Roger French came on for Paul Smith for the last ten minutes or so but could not stop Old Tamponians keeping a clean sheet.
The mood after the game was not too disheartening – we had lost to a team that made the most of their two opportunities and defended very well. We felt we had enjoyed a bit of a moral victory in the second half and given a good account of ourselves. The bar in the small clubhouse was packed – there were about four vets teams in there – we recognised old enemies in Avery Hill and Erith Vets. We enjoyed some good hospitality from our opponents – sandwiches, chips, sausages – which we hope to reciprocate in a fortnight in what will be our last game of 2011 – (and your match reporter’s 372nd in FOBG colours), before the January transfer window opens as Toby Manchip reminded me though I am not sure why as it will be extremely difficult to find another club for him.
Man of the match today was John Tallis who stuck to his job in midfield, and showed he can hit the roof of a fast moving black BMW Series 3 with the ball from 50 yards away, on the other side of metal railings, behind the goal.
We should also note the excellent job done by one of the Old Tamponians players who refereed the game – who was very fair and quite professional in a well-contested match that had not a bad tackle or bad word said in it. We can only hope for a similar match in two weeks, but with the same result for the home side.
Man of the match: John Tallis